A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, took a retrospective look at his life as he clocked 81 years on Monday, and lamented that his parents did not live long enough to reap the fruits of their labour on him.
He noted that it was “sad and regrettable” that despite the sacrifices they made on him, they did not live long to also share and be part of his success story.
He spoke to a gathering of eminent Nigerians and foreigners who came to felicitate with him on his birthday celebration held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta
Obasanjo has had the rare opportunity of ruling Nigeria as a military head of state and a two-term civilian president.
He said, “One of the things that I always missed or remember with some feeling of sadness is that my parents left this world too early and that the sacrifices they have made for me, how I wish they have been around to see the fruit of their labour, that is not to be.
“But if, as Yoruba believe that those who are dead are still able to see those who are here alive, if my parents, where they are, are able to see those of us who are here, they will also be grateful to those who have worked with me to enable me to achieve what, if they’ve been alive, they would have been proud of as my achievements.”
Obasanjo equally lamented the failure of leadership in Nigeria and Africa, arguing that God had not created bad situation for either Nigeria or Africa.
He, however, said concerted efforts must be made to correct this, so that the country and the continent of Africa could witness a new dawn of development.
He said, “I do not believe God has created a bad situation for Nigeria, no, or for any part of Africa, no.
“When things are not going on right, we must blame ourselves and these are issues of leadership, governance, development and values. And these are things we must take seriously and make sure we get them right.”
On his birthday, Obasanjo said he would continue to appreciate, praise, adore and worship God and commended those who worked and were still working with him, describing them as loyal aides.
The former President stressed the need by all to serve humanity, arguing that “it is only when humanity is served that, one can serve God. I did not believe that God has created any bad situation for Nigeria, or any country in Africa.”
The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, while eulogising the former President, described him as a true nationalist, who loves Nigeria.
He said, “Love him or hate him, there’s something nobody can take away from him, he’s a true nationalist, Baba loves Nigeria and I know that there’s absolutely nothing he wouldn’t want to do for Nigeria.
“Even beyond the shores of Nigeria, if you start counting, Baba would be one of the best three giants of Africa, many of whom are no longer with us.”
Amosun noted that “there is no way the history of our nation Nigeria and the continent of Africa would be written without the prominent mention of Baba.”
He, however, advised Obasanjo to slow down on his activities, as he was no longer getting younger
Amosun said, “We are not saying Baba should be indoors because he would die, but while you’re doing something, please slow down because we still want to have you around for many years.”
Earlier, a member of the Board of Trustees of the OOPL, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, had described Obasanjo as the needed elixir for Nigeria’s problem.
Eminent Nigerians at the event include a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Sarafa Tunji-Isola, a former Minister of Industries, Chief Nike Akande, Chief Femi Olopade, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Taofeek Arapaja, and a two-time governorship candidate in Ogun State, Gboyega Isiaka.
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan and an ex-Senate President, David Mark, have described Obasanjo as an uncommon patriot who puts the interest of the nation first in all he does.
Jonathan in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, in Abuja on Monday, described Obasanjo as a man of great achievements.
Jonathan stated, “On this very special anniversary, I join you, your family and other well-wishers to give thanks to Almighty God for a life of great achievements and inspiring service to humanity.
“Your exemplary patriotism and deep commitment to the development and unity of our dear nation is evident in your enduring legacies, having served Nigeria as a courageous soldier, head of state and president.
“I wish you good health and more productive years so that our great country will continue to benefit from your wisdom and wealth of experience.”
Mark in a goodwill message which was issued by his Media Assistant, Mr. Paul Mumeh, stated that “Obasanjo is the father of modern day Nigeria who has stood firm against all odds to keep the nation one.”
“No one is in doubt that Chief Obasanjo has demonstrated steadfastness, uncommon commitment and faith in the Nigerian project. All of us owe him that respect and honour,” Mark said.
He added that Obasanjo, even after leaving office, had continued to champion the cause of a united Nigeria, saying that it would take a good conscience and love for father land to do so. – Culled from Punch.